Wisdom teeth surgery is a dental surgical procedure for the purpose of removing one or more teeth. Surgery is necessary if a wisdom tooth causes problems such as damage to adjacent teeth, infection, wisdom teeth pain, development of a cyst, which is a fluid-filled sac, as well as damage to the surrounding bone. Surgery is also required in case of complications following orthodontic treatment to straighten the teeth.
Surgery may have to be performed if there is swelling and severe wisdom teeth pain. The same is true for recurrent infection of the gums surrounding the tooth as well as serious decay of the tooth. Surgery is also performed to reduce crowding of the teeth when there isn’t enough room for all of them and before straightening them with a brace. The tissues around the tooth may develop tumors and cysts, and this is another reason to have the surgical procedure performed.
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Wisdom teeth surgery is said to involve certain risks. These include damage to the sinuses and the nerves, infection of the socket from food particles and bacteria, formation of dry socket, and others. Given the risks involved in the procedure, some dentists and oral surgeons question whether wisdom teeth removal is really necessary. According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons(1), it is recommended that young adults opt for wisdom teeth extraction.
This helps ensure optimal healing and prevents problems in the future. However, not everyone agrees that prophylactic extraction is the best way to go. California-based author and dental consultant Jay Fried notes that about two-thirds of the extraction surgeries, injuries, and associated costs are unnecessary. This is an epidemic which affects thousands of people, resulting in disability and discomfort.
The operation itself starts with a choice of anesthetic and this depends on how complicated the wisdom teeth surgery is expected to be. If the operation is going to be difficult, having a general anesthetic or sedation and local anesthetic is recommended. This is the case if the wisdom tooth lies deep in the gum or has not erupted at all. The dentist will remove the tooth, and the gum may have to be cut slightly (the cut will be made at the back).
To loosen the tooth, the dentist may have to remove a small amount of bone. In some cases, the wisdom tooth has to be cut into pieces – one or more – to have it removed.